Bruins' failure to add forward depth at trade deadline could prove costly


The Boston Bruins failed to upgrade their scoring depth in a meaningful way before Monday's NHL trade deadline, and it could end up costing them in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney did a good job bolstering the blue line over the last few days by acquiring star defenseman Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks and depth defenseman Josh Brown from the Ottawa Senators. 

But the lack of reinforcements up front was a huge swing and a miss.

Sure, Sweeney gave up three valuable picks (one first- and two second-rounders) as part of the Lindholm deal, but he still had more than $5 million in salary cap space, all of his prospects and other draft picks to make a deal for an offensive forward. It's far from ideal to leave that much cap space on the table when this could be Patrice Bergeron's final season and maybe Boston's last good chance to win a Stanley Cup for a while.

David Krejci left the Bruins last July to finish his career at home in the Czech Republic. Sweeney had eight months to find a quality replacement at second-line center and he struck out in both free agency and the trade market.


Charlie Coyle wasn't a fit on the second line and, while Erik Haula has played well in that role between star wingers Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak, he's been struggling offensively with a six-game scoring drought and just one point in his last nine games. Haula was even demoted to the fourth line for a bit last week. 

The Bruins reportedly were aggressive in their pursuit of top-six center Claude Giroux, but the Philadelphia Flyers captain wanted to go to the Florida Panthers and Philly made the move.

What was the Plan B after Giroux?

The B's failed to get all of the best forwards available entering Monday.

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp went to the New York Rangers. Anaheim Ducks center/winger Rickard Rakell went to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller, winger Brock Boeser and winger Conor Garland were not dealt. Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel surprisingly was not traded. 

In an absolutely loaded Eastern Conference that saw nearly all of the top teams make meaningful additions, it's fair to wonder if the Bruins have enough offense to make it through three rounds and reach the Cup Final.

Nick Goss on the B's not upgrading their scoring depth

The only move with a forward the B's made Monday was signing Jake DeBrusk to a two-year, $8 million extension. DeBrusk had not rescinded his trade request despite the new contract, per reports, and now we'll see how he responds to not getting his wish granted. DeBrusk was red-hot at the end of February with seven goals in his last five games of the month. But he's reverted back to being frustratingly inconsistent in March with one goal over his last nine games (none in his last six). 

His extension makes a trade easier in the offseason, but is anyone confident his performance will improve come playoff time?

Let's be clear: The Bruins aren't a bad offensive team and they've stepped up offensively since Jan. 1. But overall they have been pretty middle of the road in many offensive categories during 5-on-5 play. Their shooting percentage at 5-on-5 is the third-worst in the league, which highlights a lack of finish throughout the lineup.

Five of the top 10 teams in 5-on-5 goals-for percentage are potential opponents in the Eastern Conference playoffs -- Panthers (1st), Hurricanes (4th), Lightning (5th), Capitals (7th) and Penguins (10th). The Panthers (1st), Leafs (2nd), Hurricanes (7th) and Capitals (9th) all are top 10 in 5-on-5 goals scored.

Sure, the Bruins are a really strong defensive team, especially after adding Lindholm and Brown to their blue line. Rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman has played fantastic since Tuukka Rask's retirement, too.

DJ Bean: Love the trade for Lindholm, not the contract

The Bruins are built to withstand the impressive offensive firepower that will be thrown at them in the playoffs. But can they respond with enough offensive might of their own? If the top guys -- Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak -- don't dominate offensively, will there be enough depth behind them to beat the top contenders such as the Panthers, Lightning and Hurricanes? 


It's possible, but it's also hard to trust guys like DeBrusk, Trent Frederic, Erik Haula, Nick Foligno and others to elevate their games in the postseason. Younger players such as Oskar Steen and Jack Studnicka are unproven and haven't really played enough at the NHL level to be trusted in the playoffs.

Depth moves rarely move the needle, but they provide valuable insurance in case of injury or a player(s) going on a prolonged cold streak. If the Bruins suffer an injury or two, their depth becomes a problem real quick.

The Bruins' window to win is right now. Adding a legit top-four defenseman in Lindholm was a great move, but they needed to go further and beef up the scoring depth. In an absolutely loaded Eastern Conference that saw nearly all of the top teams make meaningful additions, it's fair to wonder if the Bruins have enough offense to make it through three rounds and reach the Cup Final.